Don Bindler photographed these snowy owls late last week on Shell Beach, writing to us: “The seasons seem to be mixed up. First time I’ve ever shot a snowy owl while wearing a T-shirt. This mature bird is way past its usual time in these parts. Presumably it’s on its way north.”
An ‘irruption’ of snowy owls, possibly coming at a great distance from their normal ranges, occurred last December, exciting bird lovers both here on the East End and across many parts of the country.
An irruption is a spectacular, unscheduled migration of large numbers of birds to areas they usually bypass.
The December 2013 irruption of snowy owls was one of the largest on record. As many as several hundred birds migrated from their breeding grounds in the tundra into the United States. More than 50 currently inhabit the eastern states from Maine to the Carolinas. One was even recorded in Bermuda, a first time sighting there. At least six have settled along the south shore of Long Island from Montauk to Jones Beach.
There also have been sightings here on Menaden Beach and in Southold, Riverhead and Orient Point.
Some of the wise old birds took a liking to the Island and seem reluctant to head to their summer quarters.